As a classical guitarist, you may have heard of the debate about whether or not it’s necessary to use nails while playing.
You can definitely play classical guitar without nails, but it’s more difficult. If you choose to use nails when playing classical guitar, you must take care in maintaining them so that they don’t split or crack.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at the debate to see what’s fact and what’s a myth.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
Do you need nails for classical guitar?
No, you don’t. There are several ways to play classical guitar without using nails. You can use your fingertips or you can learn how to play with a plectrum (pick).
The sound of playing classical guitar without nails tends to be softer than with nails.
It’s harder to play fast notes with your fingertips, and it’s also harder to let each string sound clearly.
If you’re looking for the best classical guitar sound, then you should use nails while playing.
However, if you’d like to explore other ways of playing this instrument, try using your fingertips or a pick.
An acoustic classical guitar is very delicate, so if it’s your first time playing, you should take care. If you accidentally hit the guitar with one of your nails, it’s possible that it may crack or break.
How can I play an acoustic guitar without nails?
There are several ways to play without nails, including these:
- Using your fingertips for classical guitar
- Using a pick for classical guitar
- Switching to an electric model of classical guitar
When playing with fingertips, you must get the soft part right at the base of your nails so that they produce clear sounds while supporting the strings well at the same time.
It’s okay to use a little bit of a nail, but be careful not to have any sharp corners that could hit the strings and create noise.
Using a pointy or sharp-edged nail can ruin a guitar just as much as a crack in the body of the instrument.
Next, let’s talk about using a pick to play classical guitar.
Many people use picks for this type of instrument because it sounds bright and loud.
With the sound that you get from playing with a pick, your performance will stand out compared to others who use their fingertips or nails.
The downside is that if you’re not able to play fast passages well, the audience won’t be able to hear you or enjoy the music.
Additionally, it’s not easy for beginners to use picks, so if you’d like to learn how to play classical guitar with a pick but are having difficulty with it, just stick with your fingertips instead.
If you really want to try playing with a pick on an acoustic guitar, then you should use a thin one instead of a thick pick because it’s easier to control.
Last but not least, let’s talk about changing from an acoustic classical guitar to an electric model.
Some people who have been playing classical guitar for years change to electric models when they want to perform because it makes their music stand out.
Why do classical guitarists have long nails?
The most significant aspect of fingernails is that they enhance volume. The objective is to allow the string to vibrate perpendicular to the soundboard.
That is, the string rises and falls – toward and away from the soundboard. This creates the greatest amount of noise and the best tone.
Fingernails do this by:
- Striking hard against the string, to send it into vibration perpendicular to the soundboard.
- Reducing air turbulence in the instrument body.
They are not designed for playing fast passages, however, because they are too large and heavy.
This creates harsh tones when trying to play quickly with them, and this problem is exasperated with the use of nails.
There are those who will disagree, but I believe that it’s necessary to know how to play classical guitar without nails.
If you want to be a hobbyist or an amateur musician, then this piece of advice can help you improve your music.
You’ll even gain more respect from fans and other musicians.
In this way, you have the chance to explore your talent by learning about different playing styles that you might enjoy more.
Plus, if you’re a beginner, then it’s better for you to learn as many ways as possible about how to play classical guitar well before using nails or spending too much money on a high-end instrument.
When you’re starting out, practicing on a cheaper model is the best way to ensure that your fingers will develop calluses and strength while playing — before you have to worry about making mistakes with an expensive guitar.
And finally, let’s not forget about the other types of classical guitars available in stores today.
Electric guitars are made for playing loud pieces of music, while nylon strings are good for soft, quiet music that is meant to be soothing.
If you want to become a full-fledged classical guitarist, it’s best to learn how to play on each type so that you can choose the one that works best for you depending on the audience or the type of event you’re going for.
Knowing how to play classical guitar without nails will likely improve your playing, whether it’s a hobby or a profession that you hope to build as time goes on.
If you plan on performing at events and want to stand out from the crowd, then a good tone is essential.
So, if you have a classical guitar with nylon strings, then learning how to play without nails will help your performance and set you apart from the other musicians on stage.